Time marches on…

Standard

Indeed it does! Time stands still for no man – allegedly, but what if it did? How would you fill those extra hours?

Let’s not get into a philosophical debate, rather let me tell you that life continues to be busy. Plenty going on in the port and at home.

With the Malaviya Seven lads safe home now with their families, we are continuing to support them as they wait for their wages to come through – expected the second week in December. 

You would think that my life would be easier now, but there has been a succession of meetings with seafarers and visits to various companies that sucks up my time each day. 

I say this, not to complain, but to indicate that there are still a lot of hurting individuals and companies around and the slight improvement has not resulted, unsurprisingly, in the sharp upward swings of past recoveries.

The Centre has been busy as well and we continue to endeavour to bless all who come through our doors. 

This activity has put quite a strain on our finances and whilst this is not an appeal for donations, there are ways to give to the Centre without it costing you a penny!

We have been members of Charitable Bookings for a while now and if you download their app, then they will give us £1 for ever App installed. This is a way of booking for your meals out and raising funds for the centre at the same time! SO with your Christmas outings or family meals just around the corner, please do book your seats through the App and you’ll still have a great meal and we will get some much needed donations! Just click this link (Charitable Bookings) for more details.

A new Ship Visitor has been added to the team. Catherine Bamlett is a nurse and a natural-born ship visitor. Give her a warm welcome when she next visits your vessel.

I will be speaking at the Safety Forum gathering tomorrow 29th November… Hope to see some of you there!

Then on Friday we have our Sea Shed between 1000 and 1300. All retired seafarers, male or female, irrespective of race or religion are most welcome to come along and join us as we enjoy some camaraderie, tab nabs and a light lunch afterwards! Please do let me know in advance if you are coming so that I can order in enough food!

On the home front, we had some fun at the weekend – Byron celebrated his 16th Birthday (his actual birthday was today!) and Byron wanted to put up the Christmas tree! This we did and he ‘helped’ to decorate it!! Then he opened his presents and the fun continued!

Best go…

Blessings,

Howard ><>

Below are a few pictures of Byron: enjoying his birthday – anticipation of his birthday cake, then decorating the Christmas Tree!

Yummy!


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s finally over – well almost!

Standard

Yes, after 18 months the last four crew of the detained vessel Malaviya Seven left Aberdeen earlier this morning. Happy times ahead for them.

It was an emotional time and whilst it was sad to say farewell to them, it was also a happy time for them to be finally heading home to family and friends.

Homeward bound!

So much could be  said about the saga… the treatment of these seafarers by their employers has been shocking. Fortunately the people of Aberdeen have rallied round them and given much-needed support to these seafarers who were stuck in Aberdeen through no fault of their own.

I remember when they first came over to work in Aberdeen – that was way back in 2002 – on the Malaviya 16.

Clay, the bosun (on right in  picture above) reminded me that I came on board on Christmas Day dressed as Santa and gave every crew member a Christmas gift. A lot has happened since then, however, I am just happy that my friends will soon be home. 

There were tears at the airport – Catherine, one of our ship visitors and the “mother of the ship” was very sad to see them go, yet delighted to know that they will be home for Christmas with family and friends. Catherine, her husband Bob and daughter Rebecca will all be flying out to Mumbai on the 17th to spend Christmas with their new family!

Lessons have been learned and I would love to say that it wont happen again, but sadly, nothing much has changed and it could all too easily happen again!

I do not want to get political here, but our government need to look closely at the current legislation and put something in place to safeguard seafarers rights.

As a small independent charity, we have spent 1/3 of our annual income in supporting these seafarers – not a complaint – that is what we are here for, but we could not sustain another detention like the Malaviya Seven! 

A final THANK YOU to all who have helped me to help them – way too many to mention individually, but you know who you are! Your time and monetary donations are greatly appreciated. Let me assure you that any unused money that was given to support the crew will be passed onto them once our treasurer sorts out the finances!

 

So we move on to the next big event… the SEA SHED!

Yes, a week tomorrow (5th December we shall have a meeting for the retired and unemployed/ex seafarers at the Seafarers Centre on Market Street.

The meeting will be between 1000 and 1300 with parking at the rear fo the building off Palmerston Road.

Do let me know if you are coming… for catering purposes! 

Back to University?

I had the privilege of lecturing at Robert Gordon University to a group of Postgraduate Law students on the role of welfare organisations and the life of seafarers! I really enjoyed this and I have been asked to assist Leon with a research project he is setting up! 

I have also had a few more speaking engagements which has been great fun!

Anyway, I best close – I have a series of meetings to attend.. life is never dull as a Port Chaplain!

Blessings,

Howard ><>

Something new?

Standard

Hi, this is just a quick post – to say that the final four crew of the Malaviya Seven will be going home next week! Wonderful news!

A farewell party has been organised for this Sunday… More will follow about this…

The other news is that SOMETHING NEW is about to happen!

For many years now I have been frustrated by meeting retired seafarers for the first time at the crematorium! We have great facilities and finance is available to help retired seafarers, but they are either too proud to ask or just do not know about the Seafarers Centre so they slip through the net and get lost, often leading to isolation during the last season of their lives.
Because of Data Protection legislation nobody can give me details of any past employees – retired (or redundant) without their permission and rightly so! This has curtailed my ministry to the seafarers I seek to serve.
 
I have sent a letter that I would really appreciate being circulated amongst any ex seafarers – retired or redundant, male or female,  – who live locally about a new project that I am starting up. The Sea-Shed! If they are interested, they can then get in touch with me! 
 
I am sure it would be beneficial for them and would help me to get to know and serve them better – before I meet them at the Crematorium! 
Click this link for the letter!  Sea-ShedLetter (1)
 
Have a great day and enjoy your weekend.
Blessings,
Howard ><>

Sad Times?

Standard

Well, the latest news about the Malaviya Seven is probably well known by now – the vessel didn’t sell at the auction as only one bidder as present. 

The result is that the saga continues! 

Another trip to ASDA!

This is so sad and the morale of the remaining 6 crew has plummeted and it has been back to offering support for the guys in a variety of ways. Several trips to ASDA to buy fresh food – the fridge and freezers are not in use with the generators being limited to 10m hours a day…  

Heating is also becoming an issue. With the winter approaching fast, Aberdeen’s cold weather will have an increasing impact on the ability of the crew to remain warm. 

It is good to know that the ITF are working behind the scenes to bring a speedy resolution to this ongoing ordeal.

Aberdeen Seafarers Centre continues to supply them with fuel, food and water and we continue to be grateful for the support of local businesses and individuals. 

You can help too with a donation, large or small, using this link:

Just Giving Page 

Please mark it as M7 so that we can keep the money specifically for the crew. 

Of course, there has been plenty of other stuff going on – the routine ship visits continue and it is good to welcome Mike Deeming as our newest ship visitor volunteer. He has a lot to offer and I’m sure that he will get a warm welcome on the vessels visiting Aberdeen. 

Hospital or home visits are significant times of ministry and it is a pleasure to share with seafarers in their time of need. 

I recently conducted the funeral of one person, Nothing too unusual about my conducting funerals, but I mention it as it was probably the first time I was part of one where humour prevailed as we celebrated the gentleman’s life! There were even props of a trumpet, hotel towel and a lemon! Those who attended will be laughing now! 

Speaking engagements are also fun times unlike paperwork  which I find challenging! Thankfully I now have some admin support and Naomi is doing a splendid work Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday afternoons.

         Barry Bryant at the lectern!

I attended the Marine Charities Group Supporting Seafarers conference where I learned a lot about the future of seafarer support with excellent speakers who challenged and stimulated all the charities to work together to better serve seafarers – music to my ears! 

            Just a few of our volunteers!

We have been busy doing the Christmas parcels wrapping for our 3000 visiting crew members that will get a gift from the Seafarers Centre. These were fun times and I really do appreciate the support of all who came and helped stuff woolly  hats, cut the wrapping paper and of course those who did the actual wrapping of the presents. I am sure that there will be many seafarers who will have a happier Christmas because of your efforts! Thanks!

We have had both Advisors and Trustee meetings which were helpful times and as we look to the future, there are some significant changes ahead! One immediate change has been the move of the ‘computer room’ to a smaller space. The reason behind the move is simply that as more and more seafarers have tablets/iPads/laptops or smartphones they tend to use them for accessing the internet via our free wi-fi connection. 

However, we have adapted the smaller room with 4 computer stations for those who still want to use them.

The other reason for the change is that it now leaves us with a larger room to hold meetings in that is very useful. So if you want to hold a meeting for a training event, we are available! 

Finally, the Sea-Shed! Yes, it is now fully funded and will commence this Friday with a preliminary meeting this Friday, 3rd of November between 1000 and 1300. PLEASE publicise this to your retired (or unemployed?) seafarers that live in the Aberdeen area. 

The purpose it to help prevent social isolation, increase IT skills and have fun! Tabnabs and a light lunch is provided so please get in touch via email at seachaplain at gmail dot com or call the centre and leave a message on 01224 590036 to book a place or for more information. A training day on how to use the iPads will also be held on the 1st of December, 1000-1600. The iPads are free to users! 

Away from work, the DIY continues with the extending of the back fence – behind the shed and the insulating of our bedroom external wall which involved removing the lathe and plaster, inserting the insulation sheets and then fitting new plasterboard to the wall. See pictures below!

             Lathe and plaster wall.

                      That’s better…

 

 

            The other side of the fence!

The fence!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Enough from me for now… it’s a new week! 

Have a great one!

Blessings,

Howard ><>

October and Christmas is on the way!

Standard

Yes, the year has zipped by and we have started our Christmas Parcel wrapping. It is a great joy to bless the thousands of seafarers that visit Aberdeen every year and especially at Christmas when our volunteers wrap up some 3,000 parcels to give out. 

If you fancy joining us, then come tonight (10th) between 1800 and 2200 or Wednesday (11th), midday to 1500 and Thursday (12th) between 1800 and 2200.

We have been able to buy the various items to put into the parcels thanks to two very helpful companies…

Personal items, with the help of Rob Heaney, were purchased from… personalproducts.co.uk.

The other gifts that go inside the woolly hats were provided by Promo-solved,  www.promo-solved.co.uk Many thanks to Sam for all your support and help… I cannot show you pictures of the items as it would spoil the surprise for my seafarers!! :o)   

             An entertaining afternoon!

The routine and not so routine continues to keep me busy. I’ve had a wedding to conduct, visits to hospital and at home and several speaking engagements recently; one at St Nicholas Probus, (pictured) then Newtonhill Ladies Group and the other was to Alford History Group! 

I spent a morning in Montrose with my good friend and colleague, Peter Donald. I had hoped to see another old friend, a captain, but the vessel he was on ended up at anchor and we never managed to meet up. A little glimpse of how frustrating it can be for seafarers and their families when leave arrangements change at short notice?

         Internet and Pool being well used!

I have also been dealing with a number of seafarers who have been going through difficult times – marriage breakdowns; loss of jobs; illnesses… the welfare needs of seafarers are never far away. 

The Centre continues to be well used and seafarers do enjoy the facilities we offer – all for free! 

                           Cooking time?

Of course, the Malaviya Seven continues to occupy my time. I had the joy of taking them shopping – £1k of food for them. It was fun to see them cooking the next day! 

We continue to await the auctioning of the vessel that will hopefully see the crew receive their due wages and bring this long saga to an end!

                      Ouch!

On a personal level, I injured myself when I visited ASDA – and the automatic door stopped opening as I walked through – well actually, into it! As can be seen in the picture, I was left with a sore nose! What was most worrying was the fact that when the staff put out a call for a first aider to attend, it took over 8 minutes for the person to arrive! Good job I didn’t have a heart attack! Disappointing service from ASDA at the Beach Boulevard! 

The remainder of this week is going to be as busy as ever and then I will be heading off to London on Sunday for a few days to attend the Supporting Seafarers Conference which will be very interesting for sure.

I best close for now… until the next time!

Blessings,

Howard ><>